Surviving Valentine’s Day


   Valentine’s Day is about…well, frankly, it’s about women. Guys tend to be less enthusiastic about it because of the fear factor that they’re going to screw it up. Let’s face it, V-day can be a time of failure and disappointment. Weeks after its over, the internet will still be buzzing with the many horror stories of good intentions gone wrong.


   I’ve picked up some pretty good ideas for making the best of V-day, which I’ve broken down into five survival tips below, but first I thought it might be interesting to look at what men are feeling as the holiday draws near.


   If you peruse the men’s magazines and websites, you’ll notice that guys are going through a kind of grumbling stage before the event. While women’s media is building our expectations to impossible highs, men are preparing for disaster. It seems that V-day is a high pressure day for guys, and the meaning of the day is being completely lost in the anxiety of it all. The most positive male perspective I could find about V-day was that it could potentially be used to “earn brownie points,” but even this optimism was tempered with cautions about how hard it would be to “live it down” if they “screwed up.” “Pretend you’re not put out by the ordeal that is Valentines Day,” one article advised. And I found a number of “don’t panic” guides for men who still don’t have a plan for the big day.  From a man’s point of view, V-Day seems more like a test than a celebration. I think it would surprise them to know that it can be just as stressful for women. There is an enormous amount of stress for women who view V-day as an indicator of how much (or how little) their guy cares. This can wreak havoc with their self esteem, because most women just want to feel valued and loved. 


   For a woman, V-day is about the man in her life acknowledging, appreciating and celebrating her softer, more romantic side, and all that she brings to the relationship.  It’s a chance for him to reciprocate. However, some men see it as little more than another excuse to make him jump through hoops.


  I’m not excusing male thoughtlessness by writing this article. I’d just rather focus on ways we can walk away from this holiday with our self esteem intact – regardless of what our partner does (or doesn’t) do.


  The main thing to remember (and ironically the first thing we usually forget) is that men are very different from us. This sounds so simple, and yet it continues to be a major cause of conflicts. Remember the golden rule “do onto others as you would have them do onto you?”  Well, it doesn’t always apply between the opposite sex. One of the best relationship books I’ve read is Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. In his book he explains that each individual has their own “love language,” and that you can actually determine a person’s language cialis by how they show love to others. In other words, if your guy works harder and longer hours to provide for the people he loves, that could indicate that his love language is providing (and being provided for). He will probably appreciate having things done for him. If, for example, one of his regular tasks is taking out the trash, you’re taking out the trash for him could be construed (in his mind) as a very loving gesture. You, on the other hand, may show love by giving your time to the people you care about and, in this case, you’ll likely feel loved when someone wants to spend time with you. These two examples illlustrate two completely different love languages.  Understanding this helps us realize that giving others what we want isn’t necessarily giving them something they want (this is a very rudimentary summary of what’s in the book. It’s a great read that I highly recommend).


   The point is, men are very pragmatic, so they often view holiday’s such as V-day as cheesy and insincere (interestingly, the three most popular Valentine’s gifts are steeped in human suffering.  Did you know that most of the roses sold in the U.S. are grown in Latin America, using an overabundance of chemicals and pesticides that put the workers and the environment at risk?  Or that a huge percentage of cocoa beans used for chocolate are harvested by child labor in the Ivory Coast? Or that the workers who mine diamonds suffer horrible working conditions while the revenue they produce is used to support the war effort?). 


   Communication can help. What would you like him to do for V-day? If you’re like most women you want him to do something that will make you feel appreciated and valued.  Having your own personal love language, you’re the only person who really knows what that is. So tell him! (and keep reminding him) Even if you’ve told him before, it’s probably so different from what he wants that he’ll question that it’s really what you want. And if you’re thinking he’ll “know” if he loves you…well, this idea that the “right” guy will instinctively know what we want is an unreasonable expectation that the media has encouraged. It isn’t based in reality.  If you want something from a man you have to literally say the words; “I want you to (fill in the blank).” You may say, “yes, but my husband/boyfriend should know me by now.”  Perhaps, but if you’re like most women you’re subject to change. What made you happy last year won’t make you happy today. That’s another difference between the sexes. Women are constantly re-evaluating who they are and what’s important, whereas men often need a major crisis to make them change.  The reality is that women are harder to please than men, and to be honest, there are times when we don’t even know what we want ourselves. It wouldn’t hurt to help him out by saying things like; “I feel appreciated when you (fill in the blank).”  Talk slowly and calmly.  Leave anger out of it. Instead of saying; “Do you really think it makes me feel appreciated when you (imagine one of his hurtful blunders here),” try; “I would love it if you (fill in preferred behavior here).”  For some women, it ruins it for them to have to ask for what they want. I feel bad for those women, because I’m afraid they might be doomed to a life of disappointment.


   The idea is to get what you want and be happy right? Most men are actually pretty generous and they enjoy pleasing women.  They just want to be appreciated. Yes! They want something back, the selfish bastards! So compliment him when he gets it right, and throw in loads of details. “I just loved the dark chocolates with the almonds in them,” you might say. I know many women dislike this idea but, if you have expectations about something, why not help those expectations come to fruition?  By now you might be thinking; “And do I have to bathe and dress him too?”  Well, if you think there’s a chance he might turn up in greasy coveralls, then yes, that might not be a bad idea.  Whatever it takes to get what you want.  Seriously, if you’re with him, you might as well make the best of it, right?  Men are what they are.  I find that most of them try harder if you give them a little help and encouragement.  If they feel like they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell, what’s the point of trying, right?


   The idea is to have a good day. It is not to prove (yet again) what a jerk he is. It is a fallacy that we will feel better about ourselves if we can make someone else feel worse.  That just doesn’t work. 


   Whether you’re with someone or alone, V-day can be fun if you take charge of your own destiny. Regardless of your social status, these five tips can put you in control.


   1. Valentine’s Day is for women right? And you’re a woman? So think of it as a day when you can be completely and absolutely self centered (did you know that as many as eight million women send themselves flowers on Valentines?). Pamper yourself. Do something that surpasses the limits you normally set for yourself. For instance, if you only allow yourself a cut and color at the hairdressers, spring for a style this time. Give yourself that one thing you’ve been withholding. In doing it, you will actually be killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, your indulgence will give you an instant boost of self esteem while making you feel just a bit guilty. This is the perfect frame of mind to be in when your significant other pulls one of his thoughtless blunders. And on the other hand, when you love and value yourself through this kind of nurturing, you instantly become more attractive to others. It’s true. And when you’re flushed, happy, and a little guilty on V-day (instead of obsessing over him), he’s bound to wonder why. So whether he intended to or not, he’ll be thinking of you…even if its just to wonder what the hell has gotten into you. Mission accomplished!  Also, you’ll have managed to avoid that horrible martyr syndrome where you give and give and give some more, only to be taken advantage of because nobody cares at all, absolutely nobody. And you’d be right too, with the nobody including yourself, who also forgot to care about you. Show him how to care for you by example. Monkey see monkey do (yes, I did just compare men to monkeys, but I meant no disrespect to the monkeys).   


   2.  Many women think of V-ay as an indicator of their value to their partners.  Why not pass on this very high risk venture on your self esteem and do something to increase your confidence so you will be less vulnerable to his potentially devastating actions? You could spend the day doing something entirely for the betterment of yourself.  Read a book, go to the gym, sign up for a course at the local college. The point is, if you find yourself too easily crushed by the behavior of someone else, maybe you’ve allowed yourself to become too dependent. What’s your opinion of yourself? Could you use improvement?  Why not start today?


  3.  Try not buying him a gift. Get a card if you must (my recommendation, actually, would be a sticky note attached to the fridge). The key to this is not to be bitter about it. “Happy Valentines Day darling!!!!!” is preferable to something whiny and pathetic like; “Did you forget again?” There are guys out there who actually know how to really spoil a girl on this day, and if that sounds like your guy this tip is not for you. The question to ask yourself is this; “do I feel lucky?”  Well, do ya?  If you go all out and prepare something extravagant and in return you get a cheap box of chocolates will your feelings be hurt?  If the answer is yes, maybe you shouldn’t do it. You’ll only be setting yourself up. Give him the chance to be the hero. Its good for you and its good for him.


   4. Any time your self esteem is being tested you ought to look your best. Wear that special outfit that’s been sitting in the back of your closet (what are you saving it for?).  Do whatever it takes to make you feel pretty. Take extra time getting ready. Get out of the house or office, and stop every chance you get to talk to strangers. Pretend your single again and flirt (if you are single, V-day is a great day to meet someone because, weirdly enough, men who are single and lonely actually seem to be more in tuned to this holiday).


   5. Try thinking of someone else. Okay, this may appear to contradict the first tip, but it actually doesn’t because in this case you’re doing it for you. A great way to get out of your own head is to focus on the people around you. Try performing some completely selfless acts. The more anonymous and random the acts the better.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that V-day falls in the middle of the Random Acts of Kindness Week (Feb 12 -18).  This is a great opportunity to do simple little things that can make another person’s day. These days, it could be something as small as being polite, opening doors for others, giving up your seat on the bus, or letting the other car go before you on the road. Look for creative ways to make people smile. Your self esteem will soar, and you’ll be doing something good. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Random acts of kindness provide you with a wonderful opportunity to expand your awareness and experiment with your potential to be divine. Through random acts of kindness you suddenly realize the incredible power you possess through something as simple as a kind word. It’s invigorating, and in this day and time, when random acts of violence are becoming the norm, the influence of your kindness could make a huge difference in a stranger’s life.  Since we’re talking about V-day, consider all the lonely people out there. Perhaps you know someone who has lost a love. Maybe they would appreciate a small token on this day. This began with you wanting to feel special, but wouldn’t it be great to help someone else feel that way?  Ironically, doing so could give you the feeling too.  If you love this concept as much as I do but are short of ideas, here are a few that I discovered online from those who practice these random acts all the time.


      ·      Visit someone who is sick or infirm.

      ·      Reach out to a child in some way

      ·      Pay the toll of the person behind you

      ·      Leave an anonymous treat for someone at work

      ·      Buy coffee for the person behind you in line

      ·      Make a pot of soup for a neighbor

      ·      Volunteer for a few hours at an animal shelter

      ·      Drop Valentines off at a retirement home

      ·      Put quarters in someone else’s parking meter

      ·      Recruit some friends to join you in your random acts

      ·      Show appreciation for whatever your significant other does for you on Valentine’s day


  These tips should increase your joy on V-day (or at the very least decrease your anguish). And lastly, if all else fails, one of the best ways I have found to lighten any mood is through laughter.  Here’s some stuff I found online that did it for me:


    Check this out:  Valentine’s YouTube video.


     And if you think your guy’s bad, have a look at the picture below.


Happy Valentine’s Day!




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